Ogunquit’s broad, 3-mile ribbon of shoreline is the best sand beach you will find in Maine. This South Coast resort community has been attracting vacationers since the 19th century. However, it was Maine’s Native Americans who first named the area Ogunquit, which means beautiful place by the sea. They could not have come up with a more fitting name. Visit Ogunquit in the height of the summer and the sands are thronged with umbrellas, coolers, beach chairs and acres of striped towels, as Ogunquit’s 1,300 year-round residents are quickly overwhelmed by hordes of sun worshipers and pleasure seekers. This is the day in the life of an elegant resort village.
Attractions and Places of Interest
There is something about coastal communities and art that together like sun and surf. From Provincetown, Massachusetts to Key West, Florida, Ogunquit is one in a series of coastal villages that built its reputation as a popular art colony. Artists like Charles Woodbury, Walt Kuhn and Henry Strater discovered Ogunquit’s paradise-like qualities in the early 20th century, and the village’s artistic legacy still thrives today.
Downtown is not only lined with upscale boutiques, B&Bs and reservation-only eateries, but also dotted with dozens of posh art galleries. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art has an extensive collection of work by Maine artists. It also features pieces by Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper and Alex Katz. Are you looking for some summer stock entertainment after a day of lathering Hawaiian Tropic and body surfing? The Ogunquit Playhouse, built in the early 1930s and known as Americas Foremost Summer Theater, produces five high-profile musicals each season. In the mood for some history? The Ogunquit Heritage Museum will give you an overview of the village’s artistic and maritime past.
Ogunquit holds several noteworthy events throughout the year. In spring, the village hosts the Southern Maine Aids Walk Weekend, Restaurant Week and a Patriot’s Day Celebration. In the summer, you will find Fourth of July fireworks and the annual Sidewalk Art Show. The changing foliage brings fall-themed events, and OgunquitFest has everything from pumpkin decorating and craft beer to costume parades and ghost tours. When the snow begins to fall, Ogunquit lights up with the Christmas By The Sea Celebration and Mardi Gras Weekend.
Ogunquit is divided into three principal areas. The beaches (which includes Mother’s, Little, Footbridge and Moody Beach) Perkins Cove and downtown are linked like a strand of gold-lipped pearls. Marginal Way, a mile-long walking path, connects Perkins Cove to downtown Ogunquit. Lined with wrought iron benches so you can relax and enjoy the view, this popular shoreline path winds though rocks and tidal pools. Perkins Cove is still considered a working waterfront, but one look at the harbor will tell you that yachts and 20-ft cutters have crowded out the old lobster boats. Maine’s only footpath drawbridge can be found in Perkins Cove, and it is like something you would find in a painting by Monet.
In the summer, a scenic drive comes at a cost: traffic. While the Shore Road might be scenic in theory, as it cuts through downtown and ends at Bald Hill Cliff, a 100-foot rocky overlook, it can be more like a Manhattan traffic jam in July and August. From Bald Head Cliff, the views up and down the coast are majestic. Bring a camera. The waves in this area are known to get wild and unhinged, so chances are you will see wet-suited surfers angling their boards in search of the perfect curl.
Instead of taking your car to Bald Hill Cliff, avoid the traffic and hop a stress-free ride on the charming Ogunquit Trolley. It operates from late May to Columbus Day. Do you need some exercise after being rooted to your beach chair all day? Hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing and sailing all have a prominent place in Ogunquit’s beach culture, and the area has dozens of places where you can break a sweat or catch a tailwind.
Lodging & Dining
A vacation village as far back as the 1880s, Ogunquit has a long history of entertaining summer guests. The gilded-age may be over, but Ogunquit still exudes plenty of gilded-age style. From high-spirited resorts to shingle-style Victorian cottages, every accommodation in Ogunquit has a distinct personality. Inns with antique floral wallpaper, wicker furniture and wraparound porches sit side by side with sprawling hotels that flaunt outdoor Jacuzzis and Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The Cliff House, a genteel retreat that sits atop Bald Hill Cliff, exemplifies Ogunquit’s reputation as a gilded-age resort community. Built in 1866, it hosts weddings and special events, serves Cape Neddic bouillabaisse, wild mushrooms en papilotte and caters to anyone who longs to take cure in the refreshing, salt-scrubbed air of southern Maine.
As demonstrated at the Cliff House, the dinner menu in Ogunquit has a sophisticated flair. In other words, skip the lobster roll, order a cosmotini and wait for your black-tied waiter to bring you wild sturgeon caviar and vodka-cured salmon, or roasted quail with escargot and fried noodles. Why not order blueberry halibut with a bread pudding dessert? Now that is vacationing in style.
Oqunquit Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Ogunquit, Maine area.
- Ogunquit Maine (Population: 1,577)
Ogunquit, Maine Map